'Referees treat foreign players differently'

Manchester City's Sergio Aguero has accused English referees of bias against foreign players.

Manchester City's Argentine striker Sergio Aguero. Picture: AFP.

LONDON - Manchester City's Argentine striker Sergio Aguero has accused English referees of bias against foreign players in Premier League matches.

Aguero, who scored his first goal of the season to equalise against Fulham in City's 2-1 victory over the London side on Saturday, said home referees treated foreign players differently and were more likely to ignore them on penalty appeals.

He also said foreign players were more likely to be punished for penalties that should not be given against them.

His compatriots Pablo Zabaleta and Carlos Tevez both had penalty appeals turned down at Craven Cottage and asked by reporters after the match if foreign players had it tougher than English players, he said: "Yes, always. It happens everywhere.

"Here in England, there are almost as many foreign players as English players and it's not right that some have a privilege that others don't.

"There is a little bit of privilege with players who come from that country, but that is normal.

"We just play our game, and the referee's job is to know who is tricking him and who is not."

Saturday's goal was the first for Aguero since his injury-time winner against Queens Park Rangers in the final match of last season clinched the title for Roberto Mancini's men.

And Aguero's views on Saturday's events, echoed those of Mancini, who was unhappy Fulham were awarded a penalty in the 10th minute when Zabaleta was harshly adjudged to have tripped Fulham's John Arne Riise.

Mladen Petric converted the resulting penalty to put Fulham ahead before Aguero struck back for the champions and Edin Dzeko scored the winner three minutes from time.

Mancini claimed the penalty decision by referee Mark Halsey was the latest bad one given against them this season.

"The penalty was not a penalty, I don't know why it was given," Mancini said. "We have been unlucky for three or four weeks when we have deserved to win."

Other incidents involving overseas players caused concern on Saturday.

Chelsea's Brazilian defender David Luiz was booked for diving during his side's 2-1 win at Arsenal, but the Gunners' English defender Carl Jenkinson, who committed an even more blatant dive than Luiz, escaped a booking.

Former Premier League referee Graham Poll, writing in his column in the Daily Mail, also highlighted the problems now facing Uruguayan Luis Suarez, who scored a hat-trick in Liverpool's 5-2 win at Norwich.

Suarez has a reputation for diving after being booked twice for "simulation" last season and once this campaign, but Poll believes he was now paying the price for that and was not being properly protected by referees.

"After all the mischief (he) has created on the football pitch, it is difficult to see him in the role of victim," Poll wrote.

"But that's exactly what has happened. Since his arrival in the Premier League, the Uruguay striker has earned a reputation for diving which is now resulting in him - and his club - being deprived of spot kicks.

"Suarez was brought down by Norwich's Leon Barnett as he bore down on goal. It was one of the easiest decisions of the season and yet (the referee) waived appeals away.

"The fact it was Suarez again can only leave the impression that it is his reputation as a player who goes down too easily that is affecting referee's decision making."